Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Profit Tracker for Crochet and Knit Designers

THE PROFIT TRACKER can do so much for you and your business. Whether you are a seasoned crochet or knitwear designer or just starting out, you can't go wrong with THE PROFIT TRACKER.

Uses & Benefits of THE PROFIT TRACKER:

The PROFIT TRACKER is an easy to use Excel base tool offering a comprehensive analysis of the profits and losses of your business.

As a craftpreneur, I often have a hard time:
     (1) figuring out how much I am making on a sales on Etsy, Ravelry, and Craftsy
     (2) accurately account for how much I am spending on supplies
     (3) identifying which martketplace (Etsy, Raverly, Trunk Shows, Craftsy) is more profitable and  
     (4) determining if my overall business is profitable.

For many years, I used QuickBooks, both in my professional career and in my own business. However, over the last few years I found that I needed something simpler that I can use anywhere. Therefore, I created The Profit Tracker using Microsoft Excel, which allows for easy data entry and quick analyses.

THE PROFIT TRACKER is geared specifically towards Etsy sellers (formulas already imbedded to calculate fees) who might also sell in other marketplaces, such as Ravelry, Craftsy, and Trunk Shows. However, the tool is completely customizable for other online marketplace fee structures. If you need assistance setting up for other online marketplaces, please contact me to discuss.

Here are some of the things THE PROFIT TRACKER will help with:  

  • Track the health of your business every day. Instantly get a snapshot of your business profitability.
    See how your business is performing.
    Compare overall performance from month to month and/or venue to venue.

  • Analyze which marketplace is more profitable. If you sell in multiple venues, easily see which one is more profitable, at any given time.
    See if your Etsy shop is more profitable during a specific month, season, etc., so you can focus your marketing.
    For the same item or a given time period, determine whether one venue (i.e. Trunk Shows or wholesaling) is a better value (including fees and other related expenses) than an online marketplaces (i.e. Etsy and Paypal fees).

  • Analyze your product offering and promotional efforts.
    See which item is more profitable.
    If you run an advertisement or promotion for a month, look at prior months to track the effectiveness of the ad/promo. Did you make more money during the period of the ad/promo run? Has sales consistently increased since the ad/promo?

  • Analyze where you shop for supplies.
    Look at all your vendors to see how much you are spending.
    Compare overall performance among your vendors.
    Basically, see where you are spending your money and how often.

  • Makes the TAX SEASON relatively painless.
    Get your receipts out of your shoebox and into a more manageable system.
    Print and take to your tax preparer, all the information you need is there in one place.

  • Assist in making decisions.
    Can you afford to make that big purchase at vendor X?
    Should I do another craft-show?
    Overall, how is my business doing?


What you get when you order THE PROFIT TRACKER:

  1. You will get a file ready to load your data
    File contains built-in formulas to calculate your data.
    A pivot table file that summarize your data in an easy to read format. 
  2. You will get an e-book training file.The e-book will contain a sample files of the excel spreadsheet and pivot table.
    There will be many notes with pictures/screen shots.
    Detail explanation of the information you need to enter verses what the tool will calculate for you. 
  3. In addition, you will receive technical support for 2-weeks after purchase.

BUY NOW -----> $9

by: Tian Connaughton
~ KnitDesigns by Tian
Knit & Crochet Designer & Tech Editor
~ Craft Biz Solution
Coach & Business Strategist

Harwinton Easy Lace Boomerang Shawl     
Freeport Cardigan








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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Easy Asymmetrical Scarf (Crochet Pattern)

Love of Crochet, Winter 2015
I am so excited to share with you the publication of a new crochet design, the Easy Asymmetric Scarf, featured in the Winter 2015 issue of Love of Crochet, a subsidiary of F&W Media (Interweave Press).

If you have had a design published in a magazine or book, then you know how long it takes to go from submitting the idea, to writing up the pattern and creating the sample piece, to publication; the finished design is released into the world. This process took about a year, but can at times take 18-24 months.

KnitDesigns by Tian

About the design: 

The Easy Asymmetric Scarf is worked sideways in an asymmetrical shape and uses a simple filet pattern repeat. The boxy and orderly filet stitch pattern is softened with a feminine lacy edging.

Pattern Description from magazine: 

"This wisp of a scarf is just right to add a bit of warmth and flair to any outfit. Explore filet crochet as you work up this lacy swatch of fabric with jaunty asymmetrical edges and a fancy picot edging."

Love of Crochet, Winter 2015
The Easy Asymmetric Scarf is worked up in Blue Moon Fiber Arts' Socks that Rocks Lightweight in colorway Big Brain Blue. Cool color name, huh? Spoiler Alert: If you have never used this yarn before, you are missing out. This yarn is amazing to work with. It has great stitch definition that really shows off the details of the filet stitch and the lace edge pattern. Many knitters gush over the yarn for socks - how sturdy and long lasting finished socks are. But, when crocheted up into a scarf, and worn around the neck, the yarn and the fabric it creates is so fun.

Finished Measurements: 75" long and 16.5" at widest point
Gauge: 14 sts and 8 rows = 4" in pattern
Yarn: Blue Moon Socks that Rocks Lightweight (100% Superwash Merino; 405 yards/146 grams) in Big Brain Blue
Hook: US size H/8 (5.0mm) or size to obtain gauge
Notions: Tapestry Needle


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Friday, December 4, 2015

5 Tips: How to Choose Your Next Crochet and Knit Project

How do you choose your next crochet and knit project? There are lots of great matrix to consider when you're roaming Raverly looking for your next project. Do you look at the popularity of a design on Ravelry? Do you seek out projects your friends are making? These are both great ways to pick your next project. Here are the 5 factors I consider for choosing my next crochet and knit project.

5 Tips: How To Choose Your Next Crochet and Knit Project:

1. Interesting Shape and Construction

Learning new techniques is big for me. It doesn't necessarily have to be a complete restructuring of crochet and knit processes. However, it helps to have a unique and smart way of using existing stitches and techniques to create something wholly new.

2. Pattern Details

Popularity and photography are not a major factor for me. I don't tend to go with popular designs just because everyone else is making it. And I don't judge the quality of the design based on the photography, knowing the costs of high quality photos. The quality of the photo doesn't give the full picture of the design. Good photos doesn't necessarily equate to quality of the design and the pattern. Having said all that, what is actually photographed is important. The details that are pictured and the information presented up-front in the pattern description is a big must-have. If the hat has an interested stitch pattern, that need to be seem. I don't want to be surprise that there is a cable up one side while expecting all stockinette. Without the option to touch the item, turn it around and see all that it is, having all the information about the design and construction, whether photo or written, is crucial to conveying the details of the design.

3. Size Range and Measurements

When I go looking for a design, sometimes having just one size listed is enough. I'm a good crocheter and knitter, I can modify patterns as needed. However, having "one size fit all" is not acceptable for me. There is a slight difference here. For example, a cowl listed as "one size fit all" is fine, but what are the measurements. Just because it will fit all, doesn't mean that it will fit everyone appropriately. Having actually dimensions will better help me to determine if that particular items will fit all of me at the right proportions.

4. Pattern Reviews

See what others are saying. What did they like? What did they have trouble with? Was the instructions written clearly or was the technique difficult to understand? Consider all reviews, but be objective. Read any responses the designer might post in response to problems. This will help you to understand how the designer takes care of the people making their designs and give you a better insight into the personality of the designer. So, of course what others say about a design is helpful. But like anything else, reviews need to be taken with a grain of salt.

5. Finished Projects Notes and Photo

Sometimes, design photos are not appealing to me. Maybe it's the color of the sample or maybe the yarn choice. Seeing what others have done can be a huge selling point. If the recommended yarn is no longer available or not in my budget, what are others using? Maybe another knitter used handspun instead of a commercially made yarn. I have plenty of handspun, so having seen how that knitter made the design their own individual piece can inspiring. Also, the notes provided by the knitter indicating what they did to adjust the pattern (change the number of cast on stitches, went up or down a needle size, etc) to accommodate their changes is valuable as a starting point to how you might make your own adjustments.

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Bonus Tip #6. Try Before You Buy

The experience of the designer shouldn't matter, just as long as the design is intriguing to you and the instructions are clear. If the designer is brand new to you, don't let that be a deterrent. See if they have published any free patterns or designs in a magazine you have. Take them for a test drive to see if your learning style, the way you best want design instructions to be presented are met. Everyone need to start somewhere, right? Don't discount them because they are new and untested. They could very well be the next design superstar

The bottom line is, go crochet and knit what you feel will speak to you. What will make you happy?


{Freeport Cardigan}

{Candeo Shawl}


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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ennis Cowl

The Ennis Cowl is the perfect piece for those New England winters that sometimes seems to last forEVER; but you totally love anyways.

If you are like me, you love cold weather. As soon as Autumn arrives, you are planning for all the fun cold weather activities.

You want to be able to go out and enjoy the snow and the brisk air on snowshoeing hike. But most importantly, you don't want to freeze your butt off - you want to stay warm and toasty.

I find that as long as my neck and chest area is warm, my whole body feels warmer. And while I do want to be warm, I want to be able to be a bit stylish and not be bored out of my mind just knitting in the round for miles and miles of stockinette stitch.

See how easily you can create a cozy and fun cowl that will keep you engaged in the knitting process without having to constantly refer back to a complicated chart.


The perfect gift project for your Yoga instructor or Sister-in-law.

The Ennis Cowl is available for purchase in my Ravelry Pattern store.

{Skill Level} Advance Beginner/Intermediate

{Finished Measurements} 41” circumference and 6.5” tall.

{Gauge} 18 stitches = 4 inches in Stockinette St

Yarn: Lotus Yarns Winter Sun Aran (100% Superwash Extrafine Merino Wool; 92 yds 84 m/50 g); 4 skeins in color 08 - Merlot.
Needles: US 8 (5.0 mm) circular, or size to obtain correct gauge.
Notions: Markers, cable needle, tapestry needle.
{Pattern Notes}
So What You Get? The Ennis Cowl is a 41" circumference and  6.5" wide seamless cowl worked in one-piece in the round. The design is simple but not boring due to the combination of cables and garter ridges. Instructions are both written and charted.

The cowl uses 4 skeins of Lotus Winter Sun Aran. Lotus (Trendsetter) is a new to me brand out of China. While the brand is new to me, it is quickly becoming a favorite. This yarn knit up like a dream and frogs better than I would have liked to know. I frogged this project ALOT (nothing to do with the yarn, it was all user error) and the yarn looks just as good as it did knitted up the first time. The yarn is loosely spun, which makes it super soft, squishy, springy, and super luxurious to wear next to the skin. However, because the twist is not very tight, the yarn can be splitty when worked at a loose gauge. I found that working on a smaller and pointy needles will combat that issue.


{Freeport Cardigan}

{Candeo Shawl}


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Friday, November 20, 2015

MYTHS BUSTED: You Can't Make A Living As A Crochet and Knit Designer?!


 "You Can't Make A Living As A Crochet and Knit Designer?!"

My blog post, You Can't Make A Living As A Crochet and Knit Designer?!  really resonated with a lot of people. Thank you to those who sent emails, tweets, and blog post comments.

I heard from so many of you. Some messages from knitters and crocheters thinking about dipping their toes into design part-time as a side hussle, and those already designing on the side, thinking about making the leap into taking designing side-hussle to full-time.

Either option is perfectly fine! You'll be Fine!

I think this post touched a nerve for a lot of designers. On one spectrum are ther designers who are not making a true sustainable living from their design. After You Can't Make A Living As A Crochet and Knit Designer?! launched, I heard from a couple designers (go check out my twitter feed @KnitDesigns to see comments from November 11th).

Don't get me wrong, I am a realist. I understand being a crochet and knitwear designer can be a struggle and that not all designers make a profit.


But let's be honest, it can be profitable.

There are designers making a living, contributing to their family's budget, paying for more than just more yarn. You have to be strategic. You have to treat is as a business. For a long time I struggled to figure it out. I have a process that works, now. But maybe in a year something might change and I have to figure it out again. But that is business. You are always testing and tweaking some part of the business to see what happens. You can't just do one thing and expect it to work forever.

If you want to make a living as a designer, the key is to offer more than just self-published patterns on Ravelry that sells for $6. That isn't going to make you rich, heck, that won't even be enough to buy decent yarn. But, providing additional offerings, selling designs to publishers for $300-500, adding sample knitting/crocheting services, write articles, etc, and building a strong foundation, can lead to a business that can provide a good living.

There are ways to build a business that can lift you above the poverty line and build wealth. In my business, I look to other industries to see how those entrepreneurs are growing their business and building wealth. Women are turning small business into full-time jobs everyday. As long as there are others out there making a real living as a craft business owner, I hold belief that:


"If They Can Make It Happen, There Is No Reason That I Can't."

Now, it's your turn. Bust the myth. Stop listening to nah-sayers. This isn't a whoo-whoo hippie stuff about "if you have the passion, it will all fall into place." This isn't that. This is about thinking outside the box. Taking all your life experiences, and figuring out how to make money doing the thing you love. There will be lots of trials and errors.


You will have failures!

Pick yourself up, brush yourself off. Trust that you can do it. Because, you can and will figure it out. You can do anything you set your mind to do. Remember, look to other industries for inspirations. Find people that you respect that are doing it and identify those key components that make them successful.

You will figure it out!

Harwinton Easy Lace Boomerang Shawl     
Freeport Cardigan








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Thursday, November 12, 2015

I Couldn't Knit! I Don't Have The Patience.

So, my son is on the swim team at school. He goes to the pool after school pretty regularly. Practice last for almost 2-hours, so when I take him to practice and on the days I decide to wait and watch, instead of heading home to start dinner or go to the library to chat and catch up on town gossips (P.S. this is a small town with some big time drama, whoa!), of course I’m gonna take my knitting or crochet. In fact, I always have something to knit or crochet with me in the car. Just in case. Doesn't everyone?! You never know when you will be stuck somewhere, right? This is a small town, but not a fast town.

Anyways, the other day I decided to stay and watch the practice and was working on a knit scarf design that will be published next year. It was in a lovely silk and cashmere blend and the color was divine. Trust me, this is the kind of stuff knitters and crocheters would give up their first born for!

So, I’m at the swim practice, knitting away, minding my own business. I must have been in a sort of Zen moment or something because I was just lost in the rhythm of the clicking needles. I was transfixed by the feel of the yarn as it moved through my fingers and over the needle to create a stitch. I can just imagine the look of complete and utter pleasure on my face, right?

I felt eyes on me. You know that feeling you get that you are being watched? So, I looked up from my work and turn to the woman sitting next to me. Gosh, I must have been in hyper focus mode, because I don’t even remember anyone taking the seat on the bench next to me.

I could see the questions in her face. There on her lips, she wanted to ask me something about my knitting, but she didn’t want to be rude. So, I helped her out. I gestured to my knitting and told her what I was making. I didn’t want to completely scare off the muggle with the details of the yarn composition, the needles being used, the stitch pattern, so I kept it super simple and casual.

She smiled and said what I hear so often…

“I couldn’t do that, knitting. I don’t have the patience.”

In the past, in reaction to this comment I use to go into discussions, expounding quite eloquently on the many virtues of knitting and crochet; about how knitting and crochet allowed me to have patience instead of having the patience to actually do the craft. I use to feel like, if only they knew the benefits of what this craft could do for their state of minds.

I didn’t this time. I didn’t want a battle. I didn’t want to be the crazy knitter at swim practice. Well, at least, this time. I nodded and she smiled back at her. She went back to playing on her phone - I think it was one of those Candy Crush type of games from the low sounds coming from her phone - and I went back to my knitting, instantly transported back to my happy place, where I was creating something beautiful and lovely. I was making art that was also functional and wearable, the love, and hope, and possibility knitted into it.
This design, when published in 2016, I hope a mom will knit for her daughter for graduation. Or, maybe a big sister will knit for her little sister on her wedding day.  


Harwinton Easy Lace Boomerang Shawl     
Freeport Cardigan













Go, check out the Pattern Page to get your copy here:

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Friday, November 6, 2015

The Submission Tracker: for Crochet and Knit Designers

You have been designing for a minute. You are really finding your stride in the industry as a designer. Yeah, it's scary to actually call yourself that, but you are owning the title. You have a pretty good rapport with magazine and yarn companies, and getting more and more work everyday.

Fantastic, right?

So, what's the problem?

The problem is that there are a lot of steps to go through from the time you put the proposal together and hit send, to getting that "Yes, we would love to include your design for publication," to the publication actually going live, and you receiving payment for your work.

There is a lot to keep track of. You are having a hard time keeping up and keeping track of all your submissions. You are sending out a lot of proposals to many different publications, and you are at various stages of the publishing process with all your submissions: from initial proposal to acceptance to finished pattern and sample to publication, and payment.

This is a simple, yet powerful tool to help Crochet and Knit designers manage their submissions to maximize efficiency and increase acceptance.

It was easy when you were only self-publishing or selling a handful of designs each year. But now you are selling more and more of your designs. Things can really get lost in the shuffles if you are just writing it all down on note cards or on paper. What if you lose track of a deadline? Besides it being really embarrassing, you could loose credibility with the publication editor. And that could lead to less of your proposals getting accepted. The Submission Tracker was built to help you maintain your credibility.

With the Submission Tracker you have at your fingertips, 24/7 your entire submission portfolio and each one's stage in the path to publication. Also, you can track your rejections so you can be sure to not re-submit the same proposal to the same publication. Yikes!


The Submission Tracker is for you if (Check all that apply):

  • You are a designer (knit and/or crochet)
  • You design full-time or part-times
  • You submit design proposals to magazines and yarn companies Call for Submission 
  • You submit more than a handful of designs and need a way to track your submission
  • You don't currently have a system for tracking your submissions. Right now, your only "system" is writing general information on note cards.
  • You want to grow your design business
  • You want to find trends in your design portfolio. What design proposals are being accepted/rejected and by which publication in order to better craft specific proposals. 
How did you answer? If you said yes to any (or ALL) of the above, The Submission Tracker is for you.

The Submission Tracker 

Read how The Submission Tracker helped E, a knitwear designer:

The Submission Tracker help me to be strategic with submitting proposals. Before I would just send out proposals to whatever Call for Submission I found on Ravelry that the deadline had not past. I would do this without considering the deadline for samples and pattern. This wasn't a big deal when I wasn't getting a lot of designs accepted.

This really bit me in the butt when I had 3 designs accepted at different times (yay!), and all having the same deadline for the finished sample and written pattern (yikes!). When I accepted the terms from the publishers, I didn't realize the deadlines were all the same. It was a frustrating 6-weeks. I would go to work at my day job, come home, have a quick dinner and family time, and work on the samples until late into the night, only to get up the next day and repeat the cycle. During this time I lost a lot of sleep and missed out on precious family time with my husband and daughter.

Last year I make a conscious decision to grow my designing business and to send out more proposals. Now that I have The Submission Tracker, I have had a clear picture of the status of each proposal. I know when everything is due so I don't over book or miss a deadline.  It was a hard lesson to learn and now with The Submission Tracker I have all the information I need to make smart decisions about my design business.

Be like this knit designer...

E. was able to increase her submission and thus, her acceptance rate by carefully tracking what designs were being accepted and rejected from which publications. With this tool, The Submission Tracker, she was able to find trends and better craft proposals specific to the publication she was submitting to.


Never miss a deadline and most importantly, never lose track of when payments are expected and when the exclusivity period ends and you self publish the design.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

You Can't Make A Living As A Crochet and Knit Designer?!

There is no easy way to say this. I feel really bad about having to be the one to tell you. So, I am just gonna come right out and say it...running a knitting business is hard work and worst, your family and friends won't understand what you do. And that can be the biggest factor to your failure if you really let it happen.

So, you want to be a knit and crochet designer. You have great ideas. Magazines and yarn companies are really digging your submissions. You're really killing it! But your full-time gig is really cramping your designing aspirations because it doesn't leave you with enough time or energy to pursue all your ideas and submit as much as you'd like. You think you can really make a go out it, if only you had the time to be able go for it. You have done your homework. You can really make a living at this.  You are ready to leap in.

You will hear all sort of stupid comments from the people you love that will make you just want to scream, such as:

  • You're just sitting on the couch  knitting and crocheting all day, how is that a job, let alone, a career?
  • You will never make it anywhere doing that!
  • How can you making money doing that? Your job as an Administrative Assistance was a great job with a future, where can this knitting thing get you?
  • So, that 4-yr degree and the huge debt you're still paying off was for this? And the debt, what was all that do?
  • This is too risky and not a grown up thing to do.
So, you've heard that one?! Stop me when you've heard enough; I have a million of 'em! But, you're a realist. You know what you're in for and your ready.

None of that matters!

The bottom line, as long as your spouse and kids understand, you know, the only people whose lives are actually directly affected by your decision, is all that matters. So what your father doesn't understand how you get your ideas in that magazine last fall. Who cares if your sister-in-law looks down on you for not being a full time stay at home mom like she is, consumed completely and wholly by her kids, because a mom's real obligation is to her kids and husband.
You don't have to explain what you do in simple terms.
You don't have to explain yourself at Thanksgiving dinner about what you do that makes you happy and how much money you make.

Freeport Cardigan
Candeo Shawl

Go, check out the Pattern Page to get your copy here:

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